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Turning Forty and Evolving Your Style
Episode 517th May 2022 • Forty Drinks: The Podcast About Turning 40 • Stephanie McLaughlin
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Turning Forty and Evolving Your Style

For image consultant Susan Osborne, a bizarre urge in her late thirties to buy a pair of old-school Birkenstocks eventually led to a full-scale evolution of how she presents herself to the world - and even where she lives. Returning to the things she loved as a child was key to ‘finding herself’ again. For 20 years, she has worked with people to uncover their true essence and translate that into a ‘style recipe’ that allows them to feel great about the way they look. Susan has facilitated all manner of evolution, from normal hormonal transition to something that changes how we live in our bodies.

Guest Bio

Susan Osborne coaches people to develop their own unique personal brand by claiming a clothing style that feels authentic and builds strategies to create an inspired wardrobe. A teacher at heart, Susan educates people how to get a polished, put-together look by choosing clothing styles and colors that best suit them, their body type, personality, career and lifestyle. Her dedication to teaching the power of image through self-discovery and authentic expression is the mission of her business, Be Image Consulting. She lives in the mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

Becoming an Image Consultant (1:20)

After following a corporate career path, and achieving the things she thought would make her really happy, she realized she was feeling flat and unsatisfied. So she opened Be Day Spa in 2003, which she owned for 10 years. Within that business, she started an image consulting business, which she has been doing for 20 years. 

As an image consultant, Susan helps clients transform their appearance by expressing who they are on the inside in a way that makes them feel good about how they look. Her goal for her clients is that they can open their closet door and love most everything they see and find joy in dressing and expressing themself in that way. Many times, changing their appearance comes after someone experiences a transition of some sort, but sometimes changing how they dress is the catalyst for additional changes. Susan meets women at a place where they have surrendered to and accepted who they are and the reality of their body and then helps them decorate it. It’s a job she loves. 

As part of her initial meeting with a client, Susan asks the person to write a story about a color. Then, during the first meeting, she asks the person to read that story aloud and exchange the name of the color for their own first name. It’s a profound exercise that has brought some of her clients (including me!) to tears. 

One of Susan’s great talents is uncovering a client’s essence. She feels she has to. It’s easy to bring someone to a store and throw clothes on them and make them look great, but that’s not how she sees her work with clients. She wants to help her clients dig down to find out who they are at a deeper level and pull that out so they can dress in a way that’s fulfilling to themselves. 

The difference between having a style and being stylish (7:07)

There’s a big difference between having a style and being stylish. During the years Susan owned the spa, Susan’s style was graceful, clean and professional. She’s also a creative person, so she found ways to express that with her hair, makeup and jewelry. 

In her late 30s Susan kept having a bizarre attraction to Birkenstocks. Not the trendy, modern Birkenstock we see today. The old-school, dark brown, suede Arizona Birkenstock sandals. There was nothing about her life or style at the time that could make sense of the urge to go buy these shoes. Friends who saw them in her closet wondered what she was doing with them. 

She bought the shoes anyway and wondered how she would wear them, since they didn’t go with anything in her closet. She knew there was something about the earthiness and naturalness of the shoes that she loved. She bought them and didn’t wear them for years, but she loved looking at them. 

She didn’t know at the time, she was going through a transition of her own and thinking about having gray hair, but not knowing where these urges were coming. 

She stopped coloring her hair in her late 30’s when she became pregnant. When she saw gray hair coming in, she thought, “that’s the real me.” 

After having her baby, she colored her hair again, mostly as a way to have control over something in her life. At 42, though, she chose to stop coloring her hair for good and started to let her hair grow out again. This was long before the current trend of going gray and pandemic-induced interruption of coloring hair.

Susan says this was about letting the “real me” come out. The transition was enormous. She questioned herself every single day. Not only is growing your hair out visible and challenging, she’s an image consultant! She’s supposed to “look good”! She did a self-check in the mirror every day, reminding herself of her purpose and goals and encouraging herself to keep going. She got a lot of pushback from many people in her life, which was challenging. 

Piece by piece, things started to shift. She started wearing her Birkenstocks occasionally. Every time she wears them, a little piece of her heart that feels happy. Which made her wonder why she was all glammed up in the first place? When she thought about it, she realized that she loves denim. 

Everything old is new again (15:30)

Susan finds now that she’s drawn to things she loved as a child. She loves things with texture. She loves denim and earthy textures like suede and wooden jewelry. Those things make her heart sing. So now she looks to incorporate those things into her style. But it was important to her as an image consultant that she continue to appear approachable to her clients. The image consulting industry can be intimidating for some people to access. 

There's power behind feeling good about the way that you look. It’s different for every person. That’s what Susan loves about working with different people. The style recipe is entirely different depending on the person. 

Susan’s style in recent years is much softer and gentler and unique than the years she owned the day spa. Her style recipe now is indecipherable because it’s so unique to her; it couldn’t be replicated by anyone else. 

In her late 30s Susan experienced a shedding - of masks and previous experiences that affected how she shows up in the world. And she sees it with her clients, too. Whether you actively bring it on yourself, or not, you do through this. You peel back the layers of who you are in order to meet yourself where you are. Not where you thought you’d be or wish you were, but your real, inner, true self. 

How to surrender to yourself so you’re making wise purchases and investments. Pay attention to things you love and showcasing yourself for who you really are, not hiding behind a mask. There’s something really freeing about doing that. When you release that fear, it all works out. We get so tense in fear that our world is going to fall apart, but it’s quite the opposite. 

Once we do that shedding, we birth our true self again. With that comes so much confidence that allows us to make choices that may seem outside the mainstream. 

Who cares? (22:46)

As we get older, we care a lot less about what other people think. Susan heard that her entire life, but didn’t truly believe it until she got there herself. 

Susan feels rewarded by working with clients who are going through transitions and moving into the next phase of their lives. Helping them work through the challenges they carry in their minds, getting them out of a negative way of thinking, and their hang ups about their bodies, and moving them to a more positive way of approaching themselves is extraordinary. She loves to watch the lightbulb come on in their minds when they look in the mirror and see what Susan sees, versus zeroing in on problem areas. 

Susan helps her clients find your own “it factor.” Copying someone else’s “it factor” is easy but it’s not long lasting.  

The wisdom of comfortable clothes (30:24) 

It’s wild to notice how our external look changes over time. As younger women, you see older women wearing flat shoes and comfortable clothing and think you’re never going to do that. But then you arrive at the station and realize the wisdom of flat shoes and comfortable clothes. 

Susan still has some things in her closet that she wants to wear, but doesn’t. She’s gotten extra picky about the way clothes feel on her body. About the fabric feeling good and the fit. Which means that her clothes are more expensive than the ones she wore in earlier decades. Now she purchases fewer pieces that are better quality. 

Our bodies change over the years and we get caught up in the fact that the size we wear changes or that a certain style no longer works on our body type. Instead of accepting that and looking for different types of clothes, many women just tend to feel bad about their clothes. You have to accept, surrender - don’t give in! - and have loving compassion while you find a new answer. 

When Susan works with corporate clients, she teaches them to ‘package’ themselves in the way they want to be seen, which can be a powerful tool. You have complete control over how you look, which impacts how others perceive you. In business, it helps when your appearance is in alignment with what you’re communicating. 

Into the woods (40:38)

Several years ago, Susan moved to a rural area of New Hampshire, which turned out to be connected to her transition. 

She and her husband had bought a vacation home in the White Mountains. They were there every weekend and loved it; they loved hiking. Susan discovered a piece of her true self, something that brought her back to her childhood and who she really is. She loves nature. 

Moving to the mountains full time was a huge decision for her family but now they have hiking trails in their backyard. That’s where Susan’s heart is. She feels most fulfilled when she’s outside in nature.

The Forty Drinks Podcast is presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications

Find Susan online: www.beimageconsulting.com

Join the Forty Drinks Family!

Transcripts

00:00 Hi, and welcome to the 40 Drinks Podcast. I'm your host, Stephanie McLaughlin. I'm so excited to share today's conversation with you. My friend Susan Osborne found herself in her late 30s, strangely called to buy a pair of old school Birkenstock sandals that were wildly out of character for her style and wardrobe at the time. Those Birkenstocks, which she only looked at for several years, turned into a beacon for finding her way to her true self, which turned out to include lots of things she loved as a child. But we'll get to that in a little bit.

00:30 Let's start at the beginning. Hi, Susan. How are you? Hi. I'm great. How are you? I'm great. Thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast. You are welcome. I'm happy to be here. I'm so excited.

00:52 So you and I have known each other for a long time throughout the business community here in Manchester, and our paths have been a little bit there's some similarity, I think, in some of the personal evolutions that we've gone through. You've told me one piece of a story that I am so excited about. I love your Birkenstock story, but we'll get to that in a minute. Will you tell us a little bit about yourself?

ed a business, Be Day Spa, in:

02:00 Aren't I supposed to feel, like, really successful and happy? And I have everything I want? But I really felt flat. I didn't feel satisfied at all. And that's what made me decide to open my own business, which I'm so glad I did. It was extremely rewarding, extremely hard lot of hard hours. I owned that particular business for ten years, and within that business, I started an image consulting business, which I still have, that I've been doing now for 20 years.

02:31 And a lot has changed in my life. I think that's why I'm here. Right. The experiences that I personally have had and the fortunate experiences that I've been able to glean from a lot of my clients, actually, which is just so amazing for me throughout the years. Maybe when I was younger, I didn't quite catch on to it all. But now that I'm older, there's so much for me to learn and appreciate from my clients and their journey and what they're going through.

03:03 And, of course, how I help them with their image through that. As an image consultant, what I do is help people with their transformation in their appearance and how they look and really help pull out who they really are on the inside to package themselves in a way that really makes them feel amazing and good about the way that they look. Right. So, it's not for other people, but more for themselves.

03:33 And dressing in a way that is true to their heart and being able to open a closet door and absolutely love most everything you see in there and find joy out of dressing and expressing yourself in that way. It's a real art form, and I feel like it's icing on the cake for a lot of people who have gone through a transformation are coming out the other end. Sometimes it serves as a catalyst, too, helping people get started with their journey.

04:05 But it's meeting women at a place where they have surrendered to a lot of things. And I don't mean surrender by giving up acceptance, true self-acceptance of who they are, what their body is like, everything, and then decorating it. I love my job. I really love my job. I'm so fortunate for what I do. And I can tell you from personal experience that you are very good at your job.

e worked together, I think in:

04:58 But I was at a place where things that had suited me in younger years didn't feel as good, didn't work working, and I was buying things that they were all right, but they didn't feel great. I reached out and we worked together. And I remember you had sent me some homework before we met. And that day you came to my house, and we were sitting and going through the homework. There was a piece where you said, I think it was like write a story about a color or something.

05:28 And then while we were sitting there, you said, okay, now change the color for you. So I said the statement again, and I started crying like, you are not the only one. It was unbelievable how straight to the heart that struck me. It was unbelievable. And I have a couple of friends who've worked with you, too, and it is absolutely true that you uncover somebody's essence.

05:56 Yeah, I have to, because I can't go in to help some. It's easy for anybody, really, to bring someone to a store and throw new clothes on them. And there. You look great. It's not about that. It's never about that, really, because I'll tell you what, I had a client once who came into my office. We had talked on the phone. She had showed up, and she walked through the door of my office, and I thought, wow, she looks like a million bucks and she looks really good. Right.

06:25 And I'm thinking in my head as we're getting settled, I wonder, what is it? Why did she come to see me? And she admittedly said, I know how to go into a store and pick out clothes that fit and look good, but this is not the real me. Wow. Yeah. And I knew I was on to something with that because I really had to evolve my consulting practice to really help get at the heart and help clients get at the heart of who they are at a deeper level, to really pull that out.

07:02 So they're dressing in a way that really does fulfill them themselves. And like I said, not for other people. Yes. There's a big difference in choosing having style and being stylish. So speaking about having a style, tell me, during the years you owned the spa, how would you describe your style? I know how I would talk about how you look then, but how would you describe how you presented yourself to the world?

07:33 I would say professional. Okay. That was the number one might have come from my corporate days. So that was always, and I always wanted to I'm somewhat of a more serious person. That is who I am. So there's always that sort of element of seriousness that I carry. But my style was I wouldn't say terribly trendy, but it was graceful and clean and professional.

08:06 That's how I showed up in the world back then. And it worked. It was good. Oh, yeah. It still does, right? Sure. It's classic. Right. Professional approach. It's a classic. It'll never go out of style. Yes, I know. Although if you ask someone like, what is professional? That takes on different meanings. But by professional, I'm a little bit more traditional, not too wild and crazy. But I also am a creative person.

08:33 A lot of elements of creative flair. Right. So little bit expressive in the way I would do my hair and my makeup and some jewelry. I always had some wild jewelry pieces going on, and it was good. But I'm going to let you ask the next question. Tell me about the shoes.

09:02 I had no idea where this was coming from, but I just kept having this attraction to Birkenstocks. And I will tell you back then, I got to show you the Birkenstock. Actually, I have it with me. Oh, I'm so excited! Because this isn't the trendy Birkenstock that everyone's like now Birkenstocks.

09:24 They have a pretty amazing thing, this old school. Oh, yeah, we're talking. And I said why to myself, there was nothing about me at all that would say go by these at all. Like my friends that saw these in my closet were, what are you doing with those?

09:54 And yet somehow I was really attractive, so I bought them. I had no idea how I was going to wear them because they went with nothing at all. Right. But I knew that there was a piece of the sort of earthiness and the naturalness, I guess about it that I loved. And so I would just look at them in my closet. I bought them, and I didn't wear them for years because I work what I was doing with them, they were just artwork for you.

10:25 They were artwork, and they were a piece of. And I didn't know this at the time. And it's funny because you can consult with other people and you can see people objectively, then sometimes we can see ourselves, right? So at the same time, I'm helping other people. I go in through this little weird thing that I'm buying these Birkenstocks, and I'm starting to think about having gray hair. And I didn't really know where all of this was coming from. And this was so the Birkenstocks.

10:52 I was probably 30 in my late 30s, maybe 37, 38 ish. And I was just having these little flurries of just nature and natural things and whatever. And then I stopped coloring my hair because I was pregnant in my late thirty s. And so throughout my pregnancy, I didn't color my hair.

11:22 And so I saw that I had some serious gray hair going on. And I thought, oh, that's like the real me, because I always colored my hair. I had some gray going on in my late twenty s. And so I had been coloring my hair for a long time. And I did notice that every time I color my hair, I wasn't really feeling it. It didn't quite look right on me for some reason, and either too dark or not natural.

11:51 And then a blink of an eye, it was like gray again. So then I had to cut. So anyway, I got pregnant, had a baby, and then it was wild and crazy. And anyone who's had a baby after, you just feel like I was like, I need to color my hair. I need to get one thing in control and then colored it. And then I was like 42 or 43 when I decided to let it all grow out again.

12:20 And this was way before gray hair was trendy. It was way before people were trapped inside their house because of a pandemic and weren't going anywhere. So they didn't care about coloring their hair. It had to do with letting the real me come out in this way. And I wish so much I had written in my diary about this whole experience, because that transition of letting my hair go gray was enormous for anyone that's gone through.

12:53 I was questioning myself every single day. Wow, what am I doing? Is this right? Because as it's growing out, man, it's not pretty. There's no getting around it. And I'm an image consultant. I'm supposed to look good to live through all of that. And I did. I would have a self-check in the mirror almost every day to remind myself like, no, you have a goal. It's going to be good. It's going to be the real you when you come out the other end. And I'm not against if people want to color their hair.

13:23 I recommend to clients, yes. Color it or don't color or whatever. I'm just talking about me personally. So this is a sort of professional this isn't my professional opinion that I think everyone should have gray hair. Right. Because that's not how I feel at all. But for me, I just had to let the hair go and talk about a lot of pushback. Really? Oh, yeah. From people, friends, from family.

13:52 My husband was always on my side. Thank goodness for that. He was very supportive about it. But, yeah, a lot of pushback. Oh, you're too young to have all that gray hair. It just didn't yet. Yes, I do think that I get compliments on my gray hair, but at the same time, I know I don't look younger than my age. I don't know if it makes me look older than my age, but in a way, I don't care because it is the real me. And so I just have to let it be what it is.

14:22 Piece by piece. Things started to change. I started wearing my Birkenstocks from time to time, and I started just like when you started wearing them, what did you wear them with? Because your closet hadn't transitioned. Right. What did you wear them with? Yeah. So I wore them with skinny jeans. Okay. I wore them with skinny jeans. My skinny jeans were, like, cuffed up a little bit. And in the summer, a T shirt. Whatever. The hair, the makeup was still there.

14:49 I didn't turn into someone that I was in in terms of what your typical old school Birkenstock wearer would be with. I wasn't wearing them with socks, and I don't think I ever will. Maybe with yoga clothes, but I don't know. Yeah. I didn't completely change the way that I looked because of my Birkenstocks, so I've incorporated them into my attire, and it feels good every time I wear them. It just makes me like a little piece of my heart that makes me feel happy.

15:20 Which gets me back to why in the first place was I all glammed up and dolled up? And why didn't I have like, I love denim. I'm finding now that I'm drawn to the things that I loved when I was a child, actually. It's so funny. I love things with texture, and I'm totally drawn to denim, any sort of earthy and suede and all of that and more wooden jewelry and things of that.

15:56 Those pieces make my heart sing. And so it's finding a way to incorporate those in with the way that because I still want to appear. It's really important as an image consultant for me to appear very approachable for my clients in my industry. It can be somewhat intimidating for some people to be like, oh, I don't want to feel judged.

16:23 And that's the last thing that I want people to feel is that they're being judged in any way whatsoever, because they're not. I'm there to help them work through, build out what they're trying to achieve so that they feel good. We know that there's power behind feeling good about the way that you look. It's just so simple. And no matter what, that is the way that somebody is different for everyone and unique for everyone.

16:52 And that's what's so glorious about me working with different people is that it's different for everyone. The result is where we shop and what the style recipe ends up being is entirely different based on who they are. It's interesting, I think, back to the years that you owned the day spa, which is my favorite spa, by the way. I still mourn it. You created such an amazing environment there. I loved it.

17:20 But I think back to you there, and I feel like and this is just a reflection from the very far away, cheap seats. But I feel like your look was a bit of an armor. Right. It was a formal presentation to the world. You always looked spectacular and to the nines, and not even that you weren't approachable. You were. But there was something about your look that was armor.

17:52 And I say that almost in reflection because seeing you in recent years, you're so much softer. Yeah. Oh, my God. We can be both things. So I'm not saying one is you and one isn't you, but I've seen you in the last five years or so is so soft and approachable and yummy and unique. I think that's the other thing. As I've seen you in the last five years, you're unique.

18:21 Like, your pieces are like, they blow my mind. I wouldn't even know where you would find some of the things that I've seen you in. Whereas before, I could probably decode the recipe of, okay, the skinny dress pants, the boots, the top, and some cool jewelry. But your recipe now is unrepeatable. I could never pull that off. I wouldn't even know how. So it's interesting that you've become so much more you. Yeah. Don't we all have masks? Oh, my goodness.

18:54 Over the years for me, it showed up in my late 30s that shedding and really releasing some of that. We all go through life with different experiences that set different perceptions that are embedded in our brains.

19:14 And based on those experiences, we show up with the suit of armor or whatever that look is, or on some women, the suit of armor may in fact, be like the oversized tent hiding that I'm just going to do nothing and be a wall flower so that they'll never notice me. Yeah. And so all of that is all a guise. All of it.

19:43 And there definitely comes a time in life I think that whether you actively bring it on yourself or not, like you are going to go through it, where you're just peeling back the layers to find, to really come into yourself and really meet yourself where you are, where you've always been, actually your real inner, true self. And there's a lot of things that we can do in terms of how we express ourselves through that.

20:16 And not just we do a lot of work internally, but then externally for clients and myself, too, walking myself through what I would teach a client is how to really surrender to yourself so that you're making wise purchases and investments in anything like whether you're buying things or getting dressed in the morning, it's like you're really paying attention to things that you love and showcasing yourself for who you really are.

20:54 So not hiding behind a mask all pretty or a mask that is a wall flower hiding behind, but to really show the world who you are. And there's something really freeing about that to just I'm just going to let it fall out and let the pieces fall. And I'll tell you what, when you release that fear, it all works out. Yeah, it does. I think we get so tense and fear that our world is going to fall apart.

21:24 And actually, it's quite the opposite. There are two words as we're talking about this that are in my brain, I think, and I'm speaking from my own experience. I know when I was younger and certainly when it comes to my clothes and how I presented myself to the world and mostly what you wear to work. I wore what I “should”, right. I wore what the sort of mainstream formula was for somebody in journalism, somebody in public relations, somebody in marketing.

21:56 And maybe I got to be a little bit more creative than a corporate stiff, but I still was in the box. So I think there's a lot of and I think it goes way beyond what we wear and how we present ourselves to the world and probably into a lot of choices we make in our twenties and our thirties. We know the word “should” is primary there. And then the second word is “confidence.” Right. Once we get to that point where we're starting to do that, shedding that you're talking about, it's interesting because it feels almost like you could perceive it as a breakdown.

22:27 Oh, no, I'm losing things. But in essence, what you're doing is bursting that true self again. And in that comes just innately with so much confidence. And so now you can make these choices that are outside the mainstream, that feel good, that represent you because you're becoming more confident. That sort of core of who you are. Also, don't you think as we get older, we care a lot less about what other people think?

22:57 Amen, girl. I've heard that my entire life. I have. I didn't believe it until recently. Yeah. Once you let that go. Amazing things can happen. I hope you're enjoying my conversation with Susan as much as I am. I wanted to pause for a moment to say, if you're enjoying this conversation, please join me on social media.

23:22 The Forty Drinks podcast is on Instagram and Facebook as Forty Drinks F-O-R-T-Y drinks all one word. Head over there and let me know how you relate to what Susan is saying. Now back to Susan, who sees firsthand in her work how we get caught up in making ourselves feel bad about either the size we have to get into or the fact that a certain style doesn't work for us anymore. You and I both owned our own businesses in our thirties. And even still, there's an element of against showing up like you should.

23:54 Even though I owned a marketing firm and you owned a day spa, we were still showing up to the world. I don't know, like some I don't know elder would have wanted us to. And I know we both know people who my colleague Janna, with her Mermaid hairdo that I could never do but is so amazing. So we know people who really show up like that. But I think you and I both did a lot of coloring within the lines for a long time until we realized, hey, wait a minute.

24:28 This is mine and I can do it the way I want to, right? Absolutely. I'm just thinking back with all of the women that I met with for work and that I've helped some of them. They've been all different ages, by the way, most of them probably late. Forties, fifties. Okay. Some of them in their sixties, too. And it's been interesting.

24:57 I have the unique job in that I can get into the minds of other people. And I see it as my job to do that. In doing that, what I've learned throughout the years is that contrary to what people believe in terms of body shapes and sizes and none of that -it's all false. I have been with size two clients who feel terrible about themselves and have 22 clients who feel terrible about themselves or vice versa.

25:30 Yeah. And so it's just a matter of their own, like, how they're walking through their life and their own confidence. And it's just been like a real eye opener for me and especially the clients that are back when I was in my thirties, helping clients in their fifties, helping them dress for their body type and helping them with uncovered their style. They were at a point in their lives where they were either current Empty Nesters, or recently divorced after 25 years or had gone through major a change like cancer.

26:04 I've seen a lot of different experiences throughout the years. And so they decided, yes. Okay, I'm going to hire you to help me move into this next phase of my life. And just watching them go through that is rewarding to me and helpful but helping them work through their challenges in their mind.

26:31 So getting out of that bad way of thinking habits and those ruts and whatever it is, we all have our hang ups with something about our body or whatever, right? But yeah. So just like, helping them through that to see a new way of looking at themselves. And it's extraordinary. It really is. To watch people like just, oh, the light bulb is come on. Oh, I can look at myself in the mirror and see what you're seeing, Susan.

27:01 I can see objectively now versus just zeroing in on that thing. That is my problem or whatever. So it's nice when I get to see people arrive to that place for themselves and feel really good. Wow, what an honor, actually, to be able to be with people through those journeys. It is. It's so intimate what I do and it's personal.

27:30 What I have pride myself on is really getting at the heart of working with the client. It's about the client. It's not about me. And so I always wanted to be very thoughtful and mindful about not to show up too much. I don't want to come across as intimidating, but I also don't want to... It's not about me. It's about you. It's about you as a client. That really helps with releasing some of the mask.

27:59 Part of what you were talking about earlier was like, okay, I need to start changing things up. I remember in my mid thirties, I was hanging out with a gal who was tall and thin and funky as all get out. And she dressed to the nines, and she was always done and I loved it. And she would accuse me of being matronly. I'd wear a sweater. And again, it was like a cardigan that's really matronly. Oh, okay.

28:27 And I remember a couple of times we went out shopping together and she recommend this or recommend that, or pushed this or pushed that. And it was always what she would choose, what she loved. Yes. And not that I didn't like the clothes, but it was like she was tall and skinny. I'm curvy the day is long. And so it was like that pair of pants might look great on you. I would need to wear a size 24 to get them over one part of my body and then they wouldn't fit the other part of my body.

29:00 And so it was interesting. I remembered during that time and same thing, she helped me with my makeup. I didn't wear much makeup at the time. And again, I think over the weekend was looking at pictures and I saw some pictures from that era. It was a picture of me and one of my best friends and I saw my face. I look like almost clown makeup, but again, just not my style. Again, another external authority, right?

29:28 I liked her. I liked her style. I liked the way she moved to the world. I liked the way she looked. I loved how funky she was. And so I let her imprint that on me because I wanted some of what is what you do. What you do is exactly the opposite of that. I help you get that. It's part of what she has.

29:58 I help you get that for yourself because copying is the cheap way out. It's never lasting, ever. That's like the woman who came to you who looked like a million bucks, right? She knew a formula that worked, right? I used to say when I was a kid, I'm good at school, I can do school. And so she was good at the shopping and the formula. But it wasn't her. The “It” factor wasn't her “It” at all.

30:26 It's wild to see how our external look changes over time and how that sort of it's interesting because when you're young, you look at these older women who are wearing flat shoes and comfortable clothes and some stuff that you're like, oh, my God, I would never wear that. You get here and you're like, flats it is!

30:56 I went through a period. It might be ten years ago now, maybe not quite that long, but like, I had a closet full of stilettos. Gorgeous stilettos. Oh, my God, I loved my high heels. And I spent, I don't know, all my twenties and maybe half of my thirties just sashaying through the world in high heels and loved it. But then it just stopped feeling good and they gave me headaches.

31:23 So it's interesting that the day that I either donated or put on social whose size 9-9.5 and wants some high heels, that was sort of a reckoning moment. And I got to tell you, I'm still building a wardrobe of flat shoes that feel good but look good. They're cute. That gives you that same feeling as the stilettos. It's not as much of that in the flat world. But you know what? I'm just more comfortable in them.

31:51 And that's what I'm going to do now because it's not worth it. I hear about that all the time. I'm right there with you, and I still have some things in my closet that want to wear, but I don't. And the other thing, along with shoes, is I've gotten to be extra picky about the way clothes feel on me before. I would suffer like it if it looks good, right?

32:23 Yeah. Now, here's another thing. Are your clothes today more expensive than the ones you wore previously in the thirties? Yeah. Because I've gotten really picky about the fabric feeling good. I found that I would buy something. And if it just didn't, I don't know. If it wasn't comfortable fabric, it didn't feel good on my skin. I just wouldn't wear it.

32:52 So then what's the point of that? I'm just not wasting money. So now I tend to do fewer pieces that are a little bit better quality. And for me, it's about fit again, being curvy as cheaper clothes aren't quite as well made, don't aren't quite as forgiving or conscious of how to fit. I remember different girlfriend, different era of my life. There was another woman I spent a lot of time with who was also taller and skinny.

33:23 I'm seeing a pattern here - and she used to be able to go buy a pair of dress pants at Target and they looked great on her. But I could never wear Target dress pants because they just weren't built. They were built for such a lowest common denominator that they couldn't accommodate my fit, movement or curves or hips or butt or all the other places I got curves. So, yeah, I find today. And it's interesting because I remember looking back at my aunties and, oh my God, they buy such expensive clothes.

33:55 And now I understand. It's almost like you were saying, you'll understand later. We never believed them. Here we are, all the same things. Yes, I know. But the other thing when you had mentioned about just body type and curves and our bodies change throughout the years too, that's the other thing. And so we get caught up in making ourselves feel bad about either the size that we have to get into or the fact that a certain style sheath dress doesn't fit my body anymore.

34:30 And instead of being like, okay, my body's changed. Now I need to look for these types of clothes. People tend to just feel bad about themselves. We beat ourselves saying, yeah, oh, I have to lose weight and whatever. And the reality is and I don't think I'm alone in this, is that your body goes to hell very much. It's just not the same. It's not the same. And so it changes. Your hormones change and there's a lot of things happening.

35:01 So you have to accept, surrender, not give in, but loving, compassionate, self compassion. Right. And just try to find the answer in other ways which dial the fit of close changes. Yeah. And I've got a great example of that because I reached out to you probably four or five years ago or maybe even more recently than that.

35:28 So I have been managing a chronic illness for the last five or six years. And man, has my body changed. And I can go two ways with this. So about five years ago, I went on a very restricted diet to help me manage some of the pieces and parts of it. And for about six months, my body did nothing. And then meaning no changes. And then over the course of three or four months, I lost 35 pounds, just like that. It just melted off of me.

. I was on some medication in:

36:31 I almost lost that battle, but it hurt to have things around my waist. And so I started dressing in mostly leggings, which had not been what I had done previously. And I had that whole process of ‘I'm a schlub. I used to have such style, and now I'm just in leggings and potato sacks.’ And it was sad to go through that. And to be honest, I don't wear much in the way of waistbands even today.

37:02 But I reached out to you at the time and said, how do I do leggings and a potato sack and not look like I'm in a potato sack? And you gave me some suggestions that were great. But yeah, that's another one of those transitions, whether it's just a normal hormonal transition or whether something happens to us that changes how we live in our bodies. My style has changed a couple of times through in the last six or seven or eight years, once with the refresh we did, and then once again when I became sick and had to manage that.

37:33 And yeah. So now comfort is a priority to me. And I don't buy as much as I historically did because there aren't as many pieces that check all the boxes. Got to check all the boxes now. Yes. And it's good that you're aware of what those boxes are, because that's where women go astray is that they'll get something on sale because it's on sale and it’s pulling and it's just not right.

38:08 Typically, when I do work with clients, I'm meeting with them every well, usually initially when I meet with them, it's like for a good period of time, but then it's okay. They might call me like five years later or ten years later because their style changes, or our body changes. And they might need help with identifying certain fits of cuts of clothes that look good on their body. But also we've changed.

38:37 Like, we change different people. And who I was in my thirties and how I dressed might have suited me then, but it doesn't suit me now. So it's helping clients to uncover what are they, like, natural boho chic or, for you, a touch of feminine? Are they bold, creative? What's the essence of who they are?

39:06 Have you ever met someone that just looks like a complete plain Jane? And then you're just so, like, in awe over after having met them? There's so much depth to them, right? Yeah. They're not the person you thought they would be based on what they look like. Yes, exactly. Different aspect of what I teach when I'm doing some corporate work is learning to harness that really package yourself in a way of how you want to be seen, because that can be used, too, as a real powerful tool.

39:45 And it kind of just gets your mind thinking about being attentive to how you look and how others perceive you and that you have complete control over that. Right. You have control of how others are seeing. And I love that because sometimes people just don't. They're not thinking in that way. And I think that it can help a lot in terms of especially in business, though, it helps a lot with communication.

40:17 When your appearance is really tied tight and in alignment with what you're communicating. Right. Whatever it is that you're trying, what your message is, that helps a lot. The corporate work that I do around that is just the power of controlling other perceptions. That's amazing. That's amazing. Let me ask you one sort of a question in a different direction.

40:45 At some point in the last number of years, you moved to a really rural area in New Hampshire. Was that part of the transition? 100%. So I'm a big hiker. We bought a vacation home up in the White Mountains, and just we loved it. We were there every single weekend. It was a big part of who I really was.

nature. And surprise back in:

41:45 And my husband and I and daughter, we packed up, and now we have 44 acres up here in the White Mountains in the North Country. And we have hiking trails on our property. And obviously all of the White Mountains that we're hiking. But that's where my heart is. That's where I am most fulfilled in life, for sure is outside. That is wild new. No.

42:13 Thinking back to the Spa era, I would have thought you were a city girl like me. I sure did look the part, didn't I? Oh, you sure did. Yeah. That's what I knew until I started discovering things that I love. Back then, though, it's all about work, right? I remember putting in 12, 14 hours days. I remember my husband calling me, ‘Are you coming home?’

42:45 And I could have kept going and going. So it was just all about work. And then when it was time for play, I realized, oh, I really do love playing in the mountains. And so I figured I can do this. I travel a lot anyway for my job. Even when I was down in the Concord-Manchester area, I support people all over New Hampshire. So I thought, I can be close to what I love and around the corner to all my mountains and travel for work.

43:13 And hey, what's the extra half hour or hour, right? I don't think twice about it. So I just travel around. That's amazing. That's amazing. One last sort of reflection from me. You were talking about discovering elements. I think there's also a piece of allowing them to bubble up and not shoving them back down in the bag or under the stay hidden.

43:41 Stay hidden and allowing those pieces of you to bloom and to see what they're going to be because you had no idea when you bought Birkenstocks what direction you were going with the Birkenstocks. It was like, all right, I know I need these. And let's just see where they lead. And the same thing with the gray hair, too. And these are just my own personal examples, of course. But yeah, with the gray hair, it was like torture.

44:11 I'm trying to grow it out. And once I didn't know. And I still question sometimes I'm like, I don't know, but no, there's no going back now. It's really who I am. And there's not anything that's going to change it. But you're right. You have to allow yourself to let the fear bubble up and come out, release it. Yeah. I think that just happens organically on its own.

44:41 When your spirit or whatever is meant to do that, you don't have a choice. It just forces you forward. I love that there does come a point where we don't have a choice. It hurts to NOT allow your true self to come out or to NOT allow evolution or change. Yeah, that's amazing. And I find, too, that for me, as I've been through my own personal journey and coming into myself or as you said, my second adulthood, which I love, is that it allows me to better relate to other people.

45:18 And I find myself more open. And I've always been a good listener. I think that's always been my strength throughout all the years. But to really come to the table and just truly be open, to hear someone else's journey, experience, opinion, whatever it is, and appreciate it for what it is, just better communication in general.

45:48 Because when you go through this transition, you feel so good and confident in yourself that you're settled into yourself. So there's no struggle there. You're not communicating through layers of armor and artifice. It's much more authentic. Yeah, for sure. Oh, my God. Really interesting. Susan, this has been so amazing. Good. Yeah.

46:17 I have loved this conversation about this stuff. Me, too. Obviously, before we end today, why don't you tell our listeners where they could find you online or online? My website is Beimageconsulting.com, and that's B E, as in to be or not to be, beimageconsulting.com. Right. And yeah, that's where all my information lives.

46:47 Great. Thank you again for joining us today. This was an amazing conversation, and I look forward to the next time that we are able to see each other. Likewise, thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you so much for listening. If you liked what you heard today, please subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts and share this episode with your friends. If you know someone who's got a great story about turning 40, we want to hear it and I probably want to talk to them. Go to fortydrinks.com contact next week.

47:17 Join us as I talk to our first intrepid male guest, a guy who was facing 40 with existential dread about about all the things he thought he should have achieved by now and how life has a funny way about it. The Forty Drinks podcast is produced by Outpost productions and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications.

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